Saturday, July 30, 2005
CBG: "Worst Movie Ever!"
I've had a couple of jobs where, among other things, I was required to keep at least one eye on movies. So I've seen a lot of movies, from all time greats to low budget slashers and everything in between. I've seen movies that are so bad that you simply find it hard to believe that anyone would have financially backed such a stinker. Likewise, I've seen little films that received zero press that were absolutely fabulous.
Roadhouse is just an absolute trainwreck of a movie, but I simply can't bring myself to look away. Another favorite bad movie is John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China, but, unlike Roadhouse, Carpenter's film was (I sincerely hope) a tongue-in-cheek send up of a Hong Kong action film, relased when most of us didn't know what a Hong Kong action film was. Big Trouble in Little China is chock full of, what TSA refers to as "shitty goodness." Roadhouse is just shitty.
It did get me to thinking what the worst movie of all time is. Everyone is going to immediately blurt out Ed Wood, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Hard to argue with, and it certainly is a shitty film. But if you talk to movie reviewers, they will admit that they judge different films differently. You have to take a lot of factors into account. A Hong Kong action film, for example can't be judged by the same criteria as a studio's big budget prestige release. Different things are expected out of different films. No Jackie Chan film is known for it's compelling dialogue, but The English Patient didn't have an absolutely hilarious fight scene at a construction site. So Plan 9 is an unbelievably bad film, but it was directed by Ed Wood on a nearly nonexistent budget, not much was to be expected.
The worst movie of all time, in my opinion, is the Warner Bros. release Twister. This big budget crap-o-rama is unbelievable. Besides not being based in any sort of reality, the movie is quite irresponsible as far as tornado safety goes. Big tornado barrelling down on you? Get out of your vehicle, don't lie flat on the ground, instead run accross a large open field to a structure. A structure? Why the hell are you going into a building that will simply just fall in around you? Unbelievable! I'm sure a few fools who aren't familiar with tornadoes but have seen the crap-fest get killed every year because of this stinker.
But Twister has it's own "shitty goodness" factor that, like Roadhouse makes it impossible for me to look away. In one word, "continuity." There is the person on every set with the title of "continuity." If the person doing continuity for Twister is still working in Hollywood there is absolutely no justice in the universe. Most movies have continuity errors to some degree, in Twister they literally reach out from the screen and slap you in the face. The prime offender? That red GMC pickup that they drive around through out the movie. It has a broken winshield, it doesn't have a broken winshield. It's hail damaged, it isn't hail damaged. You can see stuff in the winshield of the truck that simply shouldn't be there constantly. I derive perverse pleasure from seeing all of these things every time I happen upon this shit burger. We're not talking a no budget Ed Wood film here, this was Warner's huge summer release. Pathetic.
While I'm on the subject of continutiy, though, I need to call attention to the biggest error of them all. Helen Hunt spends the whole movie in a skimpy tank top and no bra. Hey, it was the one enjoyable thing in the film for me. I would have enjoyed it more if someone had remembered that it can get a little chilly in a thunderstorm, a kind of chill that most likely should have caused an appropriate physical response in Ms. Hunt. Pathetic.
Tonight's the Night
One of the reasons I love playing Weird Al's You Don't Love Me Anymore is that it really fools the listener. You think a standard break-up song is coming but you get something bizzare instead. I love that! Since I tend to get more lyrical insiration from comedians than musicians, the basic idea for this came from a Richard Jenni stand-up routine. I think you'll get where I'm going with this.
Champagne by the fireplace
I’ve got the music on real low
Shadows dancing ‘cross the living room
In a vague hypnotic glow
I’ve set it up so perfectly
I hope this isn’t where it ends
But I think tonight’s gonna be the night
I just wish I could tell my friends
I’ve been playing it all out in my mind for so long
And I’ve considered every small thing that could go wrong
But tonight’s the night I’m gonna finally give it a whirl
And some day I hope to try this with a real girl
The scene is just so perfect
I’m getting tipsy from champagne
Say what you want about my right hand
It never fails to entertain
It never lies it never cheats
It never leaves me in my sorrow
And if I play my cards just right tonight
My arm will be real sore tomorrow
Don’t think I’m silly, I know that it’s not love
But if we want to play some ‘dress-up’ It’ll wear a glove
My right hand gives my filthy mind some leeway
Some day we’re gonna invite my left hand for a three-way
Pretty rough and certainly not finished, but that's pretty much what I was trying to write. I need two more verses. I kind of know where I'm trying to go, but haven't really figured out how to get there yet.
Yep, another song I'll be embarassed to play in front of my mom.....
Friday, July 29, 2005
A Skill Learned in High School That I Actually Use!
When I was a senior in high school I took a typing class the first semester of the year. It was taught by the football coach who then passed it off to a student teacher a few weeks later. I had never typed in my life before that class, never really had the need to. I picked it up pretty quickly, though and was soon up to about 25 words a minute. I was pretty happy with that and decided not to take typing the second sememster of that year.
I don't regret that decision, but the one skill I picked up in high school that I've used nearly every day since (definitely every day in the past five or six years) is typing. In college I typed all of my own papers. Being cursed with poor handwriting I even typed letters home. It turned out to be a good skill to have.
When I got my first job, one of the things I had to do was type in weather crawls. Hunting and pecking on short things like that would have been OK if typing the weather crawl was the only thing going on at any given time. It wasn't, of course, and having a little skill with a keyboard save me many times. After moving into production, I often ran character generator for newscasts, typing in all of the information you would see on the screen during the show. There were organizational tricks you used to do this, ways to get as much of the work done in advance of the show as possible, but about a half hour before the show you'd get scripts and would just have to start typing. Speed was definitely of importance.
Every job I had since then has had some sort of automated playback system. Automated in the sense that you didn't have to physically load every single tape that would go to air, but data still had to be enetered into a computer screen. I actually got really good with numbers when typing, both the 10 key pad and the numbers on the top row of a keyboard. My high school typing tacher told me the numbers would be the first thing you would lose if you didn't type since most people didn't use them very much. I used them a lot and I'm still pretty good with them.
Then the internet came about. I use email to keep in touch with most people now. Add blogging to that and I find myself typing all of the time.
So as I tried out the typing tutor program this spring, I was suprised to find out that I was topping out at 65wpm or so, able to keep up 50 wpm for extended periods. I know that's not really impressive, but for a guy who was pretty happy with 25 wpm as a 17 year old, it's pretty amazing.
But the most amazing thing is the kids today. By the time those sixth graders I had in class that spring day are high school seniors, they'll be able to type twice as fast as me. They're growing up in a world where keyboarding is as essential as speaking. And before long they'll be typing that fast with their thumbs on their cell phones... while driving....
Thursday, July 28, 2005
"I'm a Loser Baby, So Why Don't You Kill Me...."
In other open mic news, the Afferent fellows where out the door 17 minutes after they were done playing. I believe that may be the longest they ever stayed somewhere after playing, but they were still gone before the act following them was done. They love music, but only their own.....
They missed out as it was another happenin' Wednesday night at Dunn Bros. The night finished off with Boston based band, Red Velvet Slide (friends of Mike's in the area to play some gigs) doing a couple of numbers. They were absolutely amazing, their harmonies where simply outstanding, which made it even more of a compliment when one of them commented on Mike's and my harmonies when we did a couple of tunes later in the evening. Ah, they probably felt they had to say something nice. I don't want to actually be identified as a musician. Maybe a "musician," but never a musician. When I say it I use the "quotey fingers." Personally, I'd like someone after an open mic to say, "We'd like to thank all of the musicians and also Doug and Andy." That would be cool.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I've been lucky enough over the last month or so to see lots of people play in front of folks for the first time. I can't tell you what a cool thing that is to see, to watch someone to nervously attempt to entertain an assembled crowd. I've never seen anyone not affected by it to some degree, they're all nervous, but I've never seen someone not leave the stage with a big smile either.
A couple of months ago it was Amanda at Dunn Bros. You could see how nervous she was. She had obviously played quite a bit of guitar and had sung a lot. That's most of the skill you need when playing in front of people, but another important thing you need to learn is how to sing into a mic. Amanda could sing, the mic gave her a little difficulty, my guess is she didn't practice through a PA at home. Hey, who does? She's been playing at Dunn Bros every week now since then, she's one of my favorite performers. She has a sweet voice and writes most of her own material, her lyrics straightforward, but just quirky enough to keep my attention.
Three weeks ago I filled in for Joe as host of the Border's open mic. I admit that I don't get to that show as much as I should. Part of that is that I don't enjoy playing solo as much as I used to and TSA works on Tuesdays. Still I headed down and was pressed into "hosting" duties. Even a simple small show like Border's makes me respect the host of these things. The big thing is to keep everyone happy. It was looking like I wasn't even going to get to play, which I was actually OK with, but I found a slot for myself at the end of the night. It was about then that a young mother with two kids approached me. I had seen her there every time I'd attended this show. Some people show up to these things because they like the music. I'll admit that if I were to have some horrible harmonica tragedy, I'd still show up to open mics just to listen. But her name was Amber and she wanted to play. "I don't play guitar or sing too well," she said, "but I have a couple original tunes I want to do." I mean absolutely no disrespect when I say this, but she didn't play guitar or sing too well. It was her first time ever playing in front of people, nobody ever sounds their best under those circumstances. She was a better guitar player than me, though, and she was definitely good enough to do this in front of people. Her songs were really magical, very personal. The thing about Amber is that I imagined her coming to Border's every Tuesday, packing her kids and her guitar into the car, thinking that this is the week I'm going to play. For what ever reason she kept putting it off, the nerves simply getting to her. I don't want to take any credit for her decision to finally play, but I'm very happy that she decided to finally give it a go while I was hostng. If I had anything to do with her decision to play that night, I feel immeasureably better about myself as a person. Still, it doesn't change the price of gasoline here in Rapid City.
The Keystone Dunn Bros. show has provided a few people a first time playing in front of people. Last week a young girl (10 or younger) sang a Rascal Flats song. Visiting the area with her tourist family, she had seen the flyers for the open mic and really wanted to sing. She got her family to bring her. It was really cool to see someone that age in front of a crowd. I wish I had started at her age.
Last night's Keystone show had yet another first time performer. Arnie Jordan, a computer teacher at the school where I sub and I had talked about GPS technology quite a bit at school. We actually had quite a bit in common. Funny, we never talked about music. Then he saw the Slappy is Jebus Farewell Performance at the Heritage Festival. We talked music a little after the show and I told him about the open mic scene in the area. He showed up to Dunn Bros. in Rapid City the next week and started coming down every week. Eventually he let me know he played, so, like with everyone I meet who plays, I urged him to play sometime. Now the RC Dunn Bros. show can be a bit intimidating. It's grown into the area's biggest show. A lot of people hang out just to watch the performers. I can see why someone wouldn't want to play their first time there. Mike and I told Arnie about the Keystone show, attendance has been pretty sparse, it's a great beginner's show.
TSA and I were on stage when I noticed someone walking up the boardwalk with a guitar. For a split second I though it was TSA's dad (who I'd love to see come to one of these things), but it was Arnie. There was actually a pretty good group of performers last night, so Arnie got to sit there and have a chance to reconsider. To his credit, he played anyway. I'm not going to say that anyone who can play and sing a little but doesn't do it in front of people is wasting their talent. Music should, first of all, be for one's own pleasure. It sure is special when someone who's obviously played quite a bit finally breaks out and does it in front of people. Arnie was nervous, you could see it, but he had it under control. Unlike most first-timers I'd seen, his nerves didn't seem to affect his performance at all. And by the end I could have sworn he was a seasoned open mic veteran. I sure hope he comes back. I hope he finds as much enjoyment in the open mic scene in our area as I do.
I didn't realize how unique or scene is until this week. Five hours to our east is Sioux Falls, the state's biggest city, about twice the size of Sioux Falls. I have been calling around and have been unable to find even one open mic in Sioux Falls. Unbelievable! Those people don't know what they're missing.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Who Let the Dog Out?!?
I just got back from letting Wally out. No, "letting Wally out" isn't some sort of sexual innuendo, I'm watching a friend's dog while she's in California for the week. He's a really good guy and I've tried to spend a lot of time with him as he seems to be a real people dog. He seems so appreciative to see me, damn that's a good feeling. You forget about the unconditional love of a pet when you're not around one for a while. Don't get me wrong, Wally would probably be just as friendly with someone who would break into the house, but I feel really good when I'm the recipient of his affection.
There's less than 100 songs left on my MP3 plaer that I haven't heard. A while back I made a playlist of all of the songs that it had never played. At that time there were over 1400 song (about one third of the songs I've encoded) that had never been played in there entirety. Keep in mind that most of these tracks are from my CD collection. Just because my MP3 player hadn't played them doesn't mean I've never heard them before. Still with some of the tracks it had been a long time. I used to absolutely love the Kim Wilson fronted band The Fabulous Thunderbirds. It had probably been a couple of years since I listened to any of those tracks.
Kim Wilson is a great harp player. I had numerous opportunities to see him live when I lived in California. He often played a bar a few blocks from my house. The same bar was often frequented by another harp player, James Harman. I always like Harman better than Wilson, but seeing them live really drove that point home. As good as Wilson is, Harman is twice as good plus he's a better songwriter and band leader to boot. The sad thing is that since The Fab T-Birds had a couple of top 40 hits in the '80's, those reading this are much more likely to have heard of Kim Wilson. Harman appeared on Late Night with David Letterman with ZZ Top about 15 years ago which is the only place 99% of the population would have ever seen him. Too bad. Anyone who can write a song based on something he read off of the side of a locksmith's van while stuck in traffic (Lock Doctor) or lines from TV phone sex ads (Hollywood Girls) is a freakin' musical genius. And to name an instrumental after a particular push-button automatic transmission (Torqueflite 727) simply has the quirky musical sense that I really enjoy. Tuff Enuff? Wrap it Up? The T-Birds were great, but they can't hold a candal to The James Harman Band. Too bad nobody's heard of them.
Someday talent will actually count for something with the american public. Until then, I've gotta let Wally out if you know what I mean....
TSA: "Damn That's a lot of Fun"
So there was an open mic tonight. There weren't really any big suprises tonight other than a former ASO guitarist who did a couple of tunes at the end of the night. It was the usual supects, which is quite alright with me. It's an equal opportunity open mic, show up with an instrument (even a fake one, right, Terry?) and you get to play. That makes for a pretty interesting time, especially at the height of tourist season. Tonight was just us regulars, Josh, Brian, John Sawyer, a few others and a good time was had by all. Bruce's Haircut (the duo formerly known as Slappy is Jebus, we're calling ourselves that for a couple of weeks, anyway) apparently turned some heads with Two Condoms and Vibrator Dependent. No folks were sitting at the area of the bar that usually loves us, so I was a little worried when we went up to play, but a big guy with a beard sitting at another section of the bar seemed to love us. We seem to find out more about our core demographic all of the time. SMB then requested American Woman which is a ton of fun to play. I don't think I mangled the lyrics too bad either. We finished up with Got My Mojo Workin', joined by Josh on the bass. "Damn that's a lot of fun," TSA was heard to say back at the table. I think he was referring specifically to Mojo but I would apply it to playing music in front of people in general. It's hard to imagine that less than two years ago I wasn't doing this. It makes me wonder what I did with my life before I realized how much fun it is to play music in front of people.
A line of thunderstorms moved through the area while we were down to Cheers. Even though I didn't actually see it raining I can't call of the the guys who told me it was raining liars as it was pretty clear that some sort of water had fallen from the sky between 8pm and midnight. Thunderstorms moved through the area last night as well. It turned out to be the most uncomfortable sleeping night of the season as it didn't cool off all that much with the inclement weather. Even though I was able to leave the windows open all night I don't think it got much cooler in my apartment. I woke up at about 5am, my pillow soaked. My first thought was that somehow it had rained on my pillow without managing to wake me. It's funny what seems reasonable at 5am. No, I had simply sweated (is that a word?) that much. Unbelievable. Tonight promises to be better sleeping weather as it was 65 degrees on my drive home. I may actually have asheet over me for a portion of the night.
TSA and I are heading up to Keystone tomorrow for the open mic there. We'll try to get together and practice a little bit before that. He thinks we can learn 5 new songs during his two weeks vacation from work. I think we can do that easily. For my part I'd like to do Ben Folds' Song for the Dumped and possibly Landed off of the new album or All You Can Eat or There's Always Someone Cooler Than You from the Sunny 16 EP. I've also thought Robert Cray's The Grinder and BNL's Be My Yoko Ono would be fun tunes to do. As always I have a couple of half finished originals that I'm working on. Judging from past experience, they'll most likely stay unfinished. The pitfalls of being a poor songwriter.....
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Writing Breeds More Writing
As I would do this myself, I was amazed at how infrequently some people blogged. Sure, some people will sign up for this free service, post once and decided it's a chore more than somethng they do for fun. Some people just don't blog on a regular schedule. When I started blogging, I tried to write something everyday, no matter how inane. I just look at this as a place to practice writing. As I've stated many times before, I'm suprised that anyone ever reads this, but since I do it purely for myself, that doesn't bother me at all.
Somewhere along the line, the novelty has worn off. I've noticed that I've only been blogging about once a week for a while now. I suppose it's a lot of things. I've been really busy with music recently and this week I've been taking care of a friend's dog. I spend a lot of time at her house because the dog really likes people. Plus I've been trying to ride my bike down there. The ride down isn't bad, it's a little more than a mile and 200 feet lower than my apartment. The ride back is a different story and when you add in our 100 degree heat, I'm too tired to even think when I get back home.
I'm going to try to get back into the swing of writing. I truly do enjoy it, blogging really just being essay writing wihich I found I had a talent for when I was in high school. So I promise a blog about tonight's Cheers open mic. I promise blogs about the Dunn Bros. open mic on Wednesdays. Other than that, who knows. But with me, writing tends to breed more writing.
Monday, July 18, 2005
BOJ News Service tops 3,000
Cheers open mic was a lot of fun last night. Uncle Bill brought in a disco-light thingy that shall from now on be known as "the seizure wheel" (Thanks TSA!). Of course disco style lighting means that the band formerly known as Slappy is Jebus would have to play the disco standard I Will Survive. We followed that up with The Brian Wilson and were joined by Josh Marquis on bass for Locomotive Breath. People seem to love that Jethro Tull song, it always gets a much bigger response than I ever think it will. Hey, I'm not going to argue with people. "Stop liking that, it sucks!" That would be a really 957 thing to do, though. We finished up with Got My Mojo Workin', TSA and Josh doing a fine job even though, having been awake for nearly 20 hours at that point, I couldn't really give it my best effort.
I've actually been playing a lot of music lately. I attended Mike Reardon's open mic at the Dunn Bros. in Keystone last Monday with TSA (I intend to play solo tonight unless TSA can weasle another day off) then inadvertently hosted the Tuesday night open mic at Borders book store. Joe Bucholz called in sick, Borders management didn't feel any need to let the assembled musicians (or even guys who play harmonica) so I offered my services. I even got a woman who I'd seen every time I attended that show to play a couple of songs. Thanks Amber, I'm glad I'm so much less intimidating that Joe that you felt comfortable enough to play in front of people for the first time ever. Friday and Saturday night I played in Keystone with Mike Reardon, the 7 or so people in attendance each night having a fantastic time!
TSA has next week off and thought it would be fun to hit some open mics that we don't usually get to do. I hope we'll be able to hit Steve Thorpe's show at Knight's Cellar in Spearfish. Andy did say he wanted to play as far away as we could but still make it back the same day. I'm going to look for shows in Sioux Falls, which is 5 hours away, but with two guys driving would be quited do-able. That's what I'll be looking into as soon as I'm finished posting this. Either that or porn.....
Monday, July 11, 2005
Ten Lines to Get Republican Gals -- Like Ann Coulter -- Into Bed
I don't know if any of these lines will work for me, but I have been trying to bag me one of them Republican chicks for quite a while now. I'll try 'em out, it can't hurt, right?
As I read the entire edition, I'm starting to feel that the good folks at The Weekly World News have developed a bit of an anti-Republican stand. I was particularly shocked by the story about President Bush appointing Yoda as Homeland Security Chief. I guess I'll have to find a more unbiased place to find my fake news before their credibility drops to the level of BOJ News Service.
...and remember, if you hear I Will Survive on the radio, quickly turn to a station playing Ted Nugent or Frank Sinatra or, if it's too late, head to the nearest hospital emergency room.....
Author's Additional Note - I should also add some of my favorite lines that actually worked. I don't think either of these is really that good, but they worked.....
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Trying My Damndest to be a Man
My favorite thing about Ben is his songwriting. Rockin' the Suburbs featured such gems as Zac and Sara and Not the Same. One underlying tone to most of Ben's songs is the grin of an unabashed wise-ass. He has a wonderful twisted view of the world around him. Even though it's usually a cynical view, I never find his music to be a downer. I was told by someone recently who'd met BFF bassist Robert Sledge that Ben is a bit of an asshole. It isn't hard to believe when you hear his music.
But perhaps the song on Rockin' the Suburbs that had the biggest impact on me was The Luckiest a song Ben wrote for his wife. With a beautiful simplicity, Ben chronicles a relationship and shows how sometimes two people are simply meant to be together. Now I've heard much better romantic relationship songs, but I was more appreciative of The Luckiest because of the body of Ben's work. While it still has some of the odd imagry that often inhabits Ben's songs, it's the 'nicest' thing I've ever heard from him. It has more impact because of what the rest of his songs are like.
Besides also being a great songwriter, Shawn Bitz of Abby SomeOne doesn't have much in common with Ben Folds. Shawn's music tend to be a lot more upbeat in attitude than Ben's, Shawn being a much more upbeat personality than Ben. I know Shawn a little bit and he's one of the most upbeat people I've ever met. He has faults like the rest of us, he's had his stumbles in life but I've rarely seen it get him down. His music reflects this, nearly every song on the positive side of life. Considering the twists and turns in his life and musical career (he's hosting an open mic in Rapid City, South Dakota for Christ's sake) it's amazing and I constantly find his attitude to be a personal inspiration.
But on the ASO album Back to Me there is a song called Record Machine. It's not mean, Shawn doesn't name any names, but it's so unlike the rest of his songs. It doesn't come close to approaching the 'Bad Attitude" of the standard Ben Folds song, but for Shawn it's pretty out there. And like Ben Folds' The Luckiest, the sharp contrast to the rest of his body of work really makes it stand out.
Shawn also writes a nearly-daily Blog, which is a major inspiration to this here Globex Corporation Newsletter. He wrote some nice things about the former band Slappy is Jebus recently, and I'll admit it, I started reading it after attending his Open Mic to see what he'd have to write about me. But good writing is good writing wherever you find it and Shawn is a great writer. He has a style in his blog that take 5 or 6 blogs to get used to, there's a little bit of "code" that the reader needs to decypher, but give it a week and you'll be glad you did.
Like his music, the blog is generally upbeat, but he'll use it to rant, to vent his frustration at the music industry at times. He had some problems with the Black Hills Heritage Festival recently, airing his issues in his blog. I believe he had every right to do so, his issues with the festival were quite justified, his blog a healthy place to air his beefs. It was what he did a few days later that I was more impressed with. He apologized for his outburst, he pointed out his own shortcomings in the matter and went on with his life. Time and time again he does this, he does something he perceives as a mistake and, like a man he admits when he's wrong.
My blog on the other hand is generally me bitching about all of the little things in my crappy life. I bitch and moan failing to realize that I have plenty of food in my belly, a roof over my head and friends who care about me. When I've ranted about something that I saw as wrong or unfair later to think better of it, all I've done is remove the post and tried to forget it ever happened. That sure isn't being a man.
So a week ago I bitched about all of the things I give away for free and don't get anything for. Don't get anything for? I am such an asshole! I am getting published. That's pretty damn cool. No, I won't receive payment for it, and it may be the type of stuff I don't want to put on a resume, but somebody thought people would enjoy it enough to fell it was worth their while to publish. The Rapid City Journal hasn't given me a graphics postion, but a reporter thought enough of my work to feature it in the on-line edition of the paper. What did I get out of it? A place to show my work where thousands of people would see it, the confidence to start up BOJ News Service. As for playing with a professional musician, the guy charges people for the education he's giving me for free. For me to be upset about anything is awfully damn selfish on my part. I have learned so much from Mike Reardon that I am forever in his debt. I was just a guy with some musical ability, going along by trial and error. Mike has started to show me how to go about it in a logical manner. He's taught me that logic and music can go together.
So if you read this last week and were offended, I offer my apologies. If this is the first your hearing of it, oops, I shoulda kept my big mouth shut.....
Friday, July 08, 2005
Give it a Chance
The Farewell Concert went off pretty well. I've definitely played better, but I think it's been rare that I had more fun on stage. Seeing and editing all of the video has made it possible to actually see how much we were enjoying ourselves. And even though songs like Me & Julion and Locomotive Breath were added specifically for that show, my guess is we'll keep doing them. We played Locomotive Breath at Dunn Bros. on Wednesday and it seemed to work there.
Playing Dunn Bros. was really different this week. Every open mic for the last month has been about playing songs we were weak on. Wednesday we just got to choose two songs, and for the life of us we couldn't really come up with anything. That and having a set list that we had run through so many times made it difficult to choose. WE did come up with two, though, and again put on a decent show at a very busy open mic.
I'll probably head up to the Keystone Dunn Bros. location on Monday as Mike is hosting another open mic there this summer. I'm quite skepticle as to how well it well do, but I want to see for myself. I hope it does well, but unless a lot of those touristas are brining their guitars with them, I doubt that it will go over that well. Give it a chance, though, I always say.
Monday, July 04, 2005
Maybe I Was a Little Harsh
That said, I was in a difficult situation last night at Cheers. The good folks at Budweiser gave away a guitar last night. Over the last couple of months, eight finalists were selected. TSA was one of them and the guitar was given away last night. As Shawn was eliminating the other finalists (they all got toy guitars) I was sitting with two of the other finalists, Aaron and Joe. I wanted TSA to win, because he's a really good friend, but also because of his plans for the guitar. Before he was even selected as a finalist he had stated that if he won he was going to donate the guitar to the hospital where he works. Their hospital is pretty old and classical style, which nobody really plays. The fact that he planned to do that with the guitar made me want him to win really bad. But I couldn't really root against Joe and Aaron as Shawn was drawing names.
People seemed genuinely moved by the gesture. Cheers manager Terry even considered rigging the drawing in TSA's favor. Shawn would have none of that (I respect him even more because of that) and a third party actually did the drawing. After winning, another bar patron, Bruce, came over to tell TSA how pleased he was with his decision. That probably wouldn't mean a whole lot except that Bruce, a long haired biker type is raffling of chances to cut off his pony tail for charity and then sending the hair to an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients.
We played music, playing Anti Love Song with 3/4 of P957 was particularly fun, but last night was all about unselfishness. I promise in the future that when I feel like being a whiny bitch, I'll think about that night before I post.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Then there's the suckers who just give it away because they don't know any better. In addition to writing blogs, I tried my hand at fiction a while back. I posted anonymously at a website. The reviews were pretty good, I managed not to piss too many people off. Basically, I trotted my work out against that of others and I was pleased with the results. Could I make a living as a writer? I don't know, I was comparing my work to other amateurs, but mine was above average. A few weeks ago I was contacted by a Canadian publication about publishing some of my work. I wouldn't receive any payment, but I would be published. I had to agree, of course, which I did. No payment, but that wasn't the point. I did it, that was the fun thing. Does it mean anything? No, not a damn thing.
Most of the readers of this blog know about my political "blogtoons" and about BOJ News Service. The "blogtoons" started as I posted on a political blog run by the local newspaper. One of the moderator liked my stuff and posted them quite often, using them to start political discussions. Why did I do this? The only reason was because I thought it was fun. Then some graphics positions came open at the newspaper. I thought I'd apply, maybe doing graphics for a career would be a hoot. They were happy enough to use my stuff for free, I figured maybe they might want to pay me for some of my skill. If I had gotten an interview, a letter saying I wasn't qualified, fuck, even acknowledgement of my application, I'd have been happy. Nothing, not a God damn thing. I applied more than once, always with the same result. After a particularly tough week I decided to quit it. I let the moderator who I sent my graphics to know my reasoning. To be fair he didn't ask me not to quit, he even offered to give me help, to allow me to drop his name. I was grateful for that (I still am though it still hasn't done any good) and began to rethink giving it up. He also told me that there had been some discussions about using my graphics in the "dead tree" edition of the paper on a freelance basis. It wouldn't pay much, but it would be good exposure. So I started doing stuff for the political blog again. Sufice it to say that I'm not doing any freelance work for the paper. They get my shit for free, so why should they pay.
So the other blog started after that. I'm really pleased that a lot of people took the time to look, that they seemed to like what they saw. I particulaly thank the political bloggers who found my stuff amusing, who linked my blog to theirs. They generated most of the traffic, the 1000+ hits in the last 3 days. So 2000 people took the time to look at BOJ News Service over the last month. What does it mean? Nothing. I do it because I think it's fun, but nobody takes it seriously. Nobody realizes the skill it takes to do it. Think those skills would translate to the advertising or graphics fields? Me to. Apparently nobody in the advertising or graphics fields seems to think so.
So I'll never be a writer or a graphic artist. Big deal those were never dreams of mine, just things I thought I could do, things other people thought I could do. Things I give away for free. I give music away for free too. I know I can't do that for a career, I do it purely for the joy of it. I play with a professional musician from time to time. He gets paid, I don't. So, in a case like that, well hell, I just don't take it very seriously. I'm getting paid the same whether I'm flawless or a fuck-up, ziltch. But I gave it away for too long, pro musician copped some attitude with me the other day about me not getting something. Look, I play to the best of my ability, if it's not good enough, well, find someone else to play for free. I appreciate the opportunity, but you get what you pay for.
I know I sound like a whiny bitch. "If you love these things that should be enough," I hear you saying. The truth is you're right, I engage in these activities because I love them. At some point, though, it should count for something. Self satisfaction is fine, but I'm looking for a career.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Hands Off, Please
Ten hits, honestly I'm surprised that anyone reads this. I really only do it for myself, though. If someone enjoys it, well, great, but mostly I just do this to keep in the practice of writing every day. It's working, I do this nearly every day and I think I've actually improved as a writer since the first of the year when I started this. I still make way too many typos and I am a horrific speller, but I'm just trying to get pages on the web, I'm not too terribly worried about those things. For me the practice in writing is the important thing.
So this little blog has received somewhere around 1900 hits since I put the counter on. Again, I'm surprised that anyone ever sees this. I get the occasional comment from people who just happen by. On Valentine's Day I had a post that got quite a few people wandering by to stop in and give it a read. The post was about getting served with my divorce papers on February 14th 1992, which I thought was a pretty good piece of writing. The reason that anybody gave it a second look, though, was the title, "Happy Fucking Valentine's Day."
I didn't name the post as I did to garner attention, but that's what it did. In a way I feel bad about it, since I try not to swear gratuitously in this blog, but I thought the title really fit the post. I almost always title a post when I'm done writing it as opposed to comming up with an attention grabbing title. I learned that I could get a lot more hits by coming up with outlandish headlines, but for the most part I've tried not to do that. The numbers just don't mean that much to me.
Last week I wrote a post about BOJ News Service topping 700 hits. Now this I was pretty proud of. BOJ is something that I actually want people to see. The idea is to show off some of my Photoshop skills by making topical references to news of the day. It's been fun, and people have noticed. That's cool. I've gotten others to link to the site and have received quite a bit of notice from other political blogs, particularly Todd Epp's SD Watch. Todd has been good enough to name particular posts on BOJ as "Must Reads" on occasion, though there realy isn't much reading involved on any of the BOJ posts. Each time this has happened, there has been a spike in the number of hits. The site's first 100 hit day corresponded with a "Must Read" recomendation.
The BRAC hearing in Rapid City generated another spike in activity. It was around this time that Thunewatch.com noticed BOJ News Service and made a nice comment in the body of his blog. Granted this was mostly because BOJ has been kind of tough on Sen. John Thune and his claims that he "had the President's ear." Still, I made people giggle with something I did, and as far as I'm concerned, that's what I'm here for.
Yesterday the editor of Thunewatch.com contacted me, asking me to do my take on a breaking Thune scandal. I read through the info and did this. Yesterday, that one post has generated the biggest day in BOJ News Service history, more than quadrupling the previous biggest day. And it's not done, today has generated nearly as many hits and there's still a significant portion of the day left. Last weeks's total hits of 700 has been dwarfed by the current hit number of over 1700.
I'm happy with the interest generated. It's nice that people from around the country are seeing some of the work TSA and I are doing (I haven't forgotten about TSA, he's a contributor to BOJ as well). The hits are coming so fast an furious now, that I can't keep track of them. One thing about the hits bothers me. Before yesterday, the hits were overwhelmingly from the state of South Dakota. BOJ was created to primarily look at ("lampoon"?) South Dakota politics. Yeah, the occasional hit came from around the country. I particularly liked the hits from DC, the Sergeant at Arms of the US Senate, and those hits from the Democratic Party Headquarters were a real kick to see.
While I'm still getting a lot of hits from South Dakota, it's not overwhelmingly so now. Thunewatch.com apparently has a large out of state following. Good for him, I suppose, but it makes me wonder why so many people from around the country are interested in our Senator and his claims about the President's ear. Now I've become part of that. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if South Dakotans have issues with Sen. Thune it's good for us to discuss it. If people from outside of our state I'd perefer that they keep their opinions to themselves, or at the very least, don't try to influence us. While that may be a pretty naiive view of politics, I think it's right. I didn't like the President campaigning so hard for John Thune in South Dakota in 2004, but I didn't like all of the out of state money Tom Daschle received either. I'd rather have South Dakotans responsible for who the Senator from South Dakota is.